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    Senate OK's Continued C-17 Production While Pentagon Studies U.S. Airlift Capabilities

    (Nov. 10, 2005) -- The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to the 2006 Military Appropriations bill which would maintain production of the C-17 transport aircraft pending Pentagon review of U.S. airlift capabilities.

    The amendment, sponsored by Senators Jim Talent (R, MO) and Joe Lieberman (D. CT)) and co-sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D, CA), was approved on a bipartisan 89-9 vote on Nov. 10. Supporters said the amendment would protect lift capability to deploy and sustain forces overseas. Specifically, the legislative verbiage:

    • Authorizes a multiyear contract for the purchase of up to 42 additional C-17 aircraft;

    • Urges the Secretary of the Air Force to keep production lines open by sustaining at least a minimum production of C-17s until further assessment of airlift needs are completed; and

    • Requires the Secretary of Defense to certify the need for additional C-17s through the Quadrennial Defense Review by assessing the additional inter-theater airlift requirements generated by seven factors including: the Army's shift to brigade combat teams, its goal of deploying a brigade anywhere in the world in four to seven days and a division anywhere in the world in ten, our increased involvement in international humanitarian relief missions and the deployment back to the U.S. of forces as part of the Global Posture Review. posts the verbatim text of the amendment at the conclusion of this article.

    The amendment was added to the Defense Authorization bill, which is expected to receive a final Senate vote shortly and will then go to a House-Senate Conference Committee to be reconciled with a House version.

    In a draft version of the Defense Departmentís Mobility Capabilities Study, the Pentagon had recommended purchasing no C-17s beyond the 180 currently planned for.

    In a written release, Senator Feinstein said:

    This amendment would ensure the production of C-17s for many years to come. Not only will this mean that thousands of Californians will be able to keep their jobs on the production line in Long Beach, but it strengthens the mission at March Air Reserve Base and other bases like it. The fact that these planes will continue to be built helps ensure that this mission will stay at March in the future. My great thanks go to Senators Talent and Lieberman for their leadership in this effort."

    The verbatim amendment text follows:


    (a) MULTIYEAR PROCUREMENT AUTHORIZED.--The Secretary of the Air Force may, in accordance with section 2306b of title 10, United States Code, enter into a multiyear contract, beginning with the fiscal year 2006 program year, for the procurement of up to 42 additional C-17 aircraft.

    (b) CERTIFICATION REQUIRED.--Before the exercise of the authority in subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a certification that the additional airlift capacity to be provided by the C-17 aircraft to be procured under the authority is consistent with the quadrennial defense review under section 118 of title 10, United States Code, to be submitted to Congress with the budget of the President for fiscal year 2007 (as submitted under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code), as qualified by subsection (c).


    (1) INCLUSION IN QUADRENNIAL DEFENSE REVIEW.--The Secretary of Defense shall, as part of the quadrennial defense review in 2005 and in accordance with the provisions of section 118(d)(9) of title 10, United States Code, carry out an assessment of the inter-theater airlift capabilities required to support the national defense strategy.

    (2) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.--In including the assessment required by paragraph (1) in the quadrennial defense review as required by that paragraph, the Secretary shall explain how the recommendations for future airlift force structure requirements in that quadrennial defense review take into account the following:

    (A) The increased airlift demands associated with the Army modular brigade combat teams.

    (B) The objective to deliver a brigade combat team anywhere in the world within four to seven days, a division within 10 days, and multiple divisions within 20 days.

    (C) The increased airlift demands associated with the expanded scope of operational activities of the Special Operations forces.

    (D) The realignment of the overseas basing structure in accordance with the Integrated Presence and Basing Strategy.

    (E) Adjustments in the force structure to meet homeland defense requirements.

    (F) The potential for simultaneous homeland defense activities and major combat operations.

    (G) Potential changes in requirements for intra-theater airlift or sealift capabilities.

    (d) MAINTENANCE OF C-17 AIRCRAFT PRODUCTION LINE.--In the event the Secretary of Defense is unable to make the certification specified in subsection (b), the Secretary of the Air Force should procure sufficient C-17 aircraft to maintain the C-17 aircraft production line at not less than the minimum sustaining rate until sufficient flight test data regarding improved C-5 aircraft mission capability rates as a result of the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program and Avionics Modernization Program have been obtained to determine the validity of assumptions concerning the C-5 aircraft used in the Mobility Capabilities Study.

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